Joe Paterno's son: Victims of 'this whole tragedy' should be the focus

Paterno diagnosed with lung cancer
Paterno diagnosed with lung cancer

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    Paterno diagnosed with lung cancer

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Story highlights

  • Joe Paterno's son Jay: We must "keep focus on the victims of this whole tragedy"
  • Joe Paterno has a treatable form of lung cancer, his family says
  • Paterno is the winningest coach in Division I college football history
  • He has said he wished he had done more after hearing sex abuse allegation
Jay Paterno, Penn State's quarterbacks coach and son of legendary coach Joe Paterno, spoke out after weeks of public and personal challenges for his father.
In an interview with ESPN on Friday, Jay Paterno spoke about his father's recent diagnosis of lung cancer and the child rape allegations against an assistant coach that eventually ended Joe Paterno's 46-year head coaching career.
The younger Paterno said Friday that while his world has turned "upside down" in the past two weeks, "We've got to make sure we keep focus on the victims of this whole tragedy."
Jay Paterno said he hasn't spoken out publicly because his father's health has been "the big, main focus the last seven, eight days."
On Friday, his brother Scott said his father has a treatable form of lung cancer.
The family learned of the diagnosis after Paterno's follow-up visit last weekend for a bronchial illness, Scott Paterno said.
"He is currently undergoing treatment, and his doctors are optimistic that he will make a full recovery," Scott Paterno said in a statement. "As everyone can appreciate, this is a deeply personal matter for my parents, and we simply ask that his privacy be respected as he proceeds with treatment."
Penn state's new president, Rod Erickson, issued a statement Saturday, saying, "This is very unfortunate news and another sad note for our Penn State community. Our thoughts are with him and his family at this difficult time and we certainly pray for his speedy recovery."
Paterno, 84, the all-time winningest football coach in Division I history, was fired last week amid an outcry over the handling of abuse claims involving former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky.
Jay Paterno told ESPN that many members of the football staff were surprised to learn about the allegations against Sandusky.
"Most of us found out when investigators came and began to ask questions, because most of us knew so little we weren't even called to the grand jury," Jay Paterno said.
National outrage grew over Paterno's reaction to a graduate assistant's 2002 report that he had seen former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky performing anal sex on a young boy in the shower room of the football complex.
Paterno said that he'd never been told the graphic details revealed in a grand jury report about sex abuse allegations, but that he nevertheless passed the allegations on to his boss. He said he had done "what I was supposed to do." In a later statement, he said "with the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more."
It was years before law enforcement learned about the allegation.
Friday's announcement coincided with news of an NCAA investigation at Penn State.
"This unprecedented situation demands the NCAA evaluate the university's accountability" and application of NCAA bylaws, NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a letter to the school.